Former WTO Director defends multilateralism on ‘Talking Foreign Affairs’

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Former WTO Director-General, Pascal Lamy, was the recent guest on ‘Talking Foreign Affairs’ with Adil Cader.

The two discuss WTO, international institutions and their role in the contemporary scenario. The host Adil Cader opens with a question on importance of the World Trade Organization to global affairs. The former director-general responds that the WTO matters to global affairs because economic development matters for people. The expansion of international trade, he continues, is a major contribution to economic development. “The efficiency of an economy increases with an increase in international trade. It only happens under specific conditions which necessitate a global consensus.” Thus, organizations like the WTO are important for facilitating these conditions.

On the topic of the Paris Peace Forum, Mr. Lamy explains that “we believe international cooperation should not be left in the hands of diplomats of sovereigns, but should expand to NGOs, business coalition, cities and academic institutions.” On Trump administration’s boycott of the WTO, Mr. Lamy remarks, “It’s obviously a serious issue because compared to other organizations, WTO is more efficient in implementing rules. Contrary to normal international law, it obliges the party to abide with the judicial decision at the end of a dispute settlement.” Mr. Pascal Lamy opens up on the relation between trade and climate, and the role that the World Trade Organization must play in that regard.

On the Sino-US relationship, Mr. Lamy adds that “we are back to a period where geopolitics might trump geo-economics. We need to get this balance right.” This, he suggests, goes away from the old belief that geoeconomics can lead to more peace whereas geopolitics usually leads to conflict in the sense that the former invokes rationality while the latter is about emotions. “This finds its origin in the 2008 financial crisis and the rebalancing of power between China and the United States.”

“The legal, juridical principle of sovereignty does not fit with today’s world.”
Pascal Lamy

Pascal Lamy served two terms as Director General of the World Trade Organization (WTO) from September 2005 to September 2013. He is currently President of the Paris Peace Forum and Chair of Europe for the Brunswick Group.

‘Talking Foreign Affairs’ seeks to educate young people on key international issues and analyse key themes of foreign policy and current global affairs. Their offerings include hosting panels, addressing conferences, carrying out research and publishing. 

Photo: Adil Cader of ‘Talking Foreign Affairs’ (right) with former WTO Director-General, Pascal Lamy

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